World Rugby called the game a feast of tries, in a truly compelling test of styles.
Uruguay, the smaller of the two sides, had the courage, speed and flair to keep up with the intensity and physicality of the Tongans, coming back from 17-6 down at the end of the first quarter to win by the slenderest of margins.
Tonga scored three times in the opening quarter through Patelesio Onene, Semisi Tei and Feliuaki Halaifonua with Uruguay’s points coming from the boot of Felipe Etcheverry.
Eventually Los Teritos started to find gaps in the Tongan defence and they were rewarded with two tries, the second a brilliant solo effort from scrum-half Santiago Arata, to take a 20-17 half-time lead.
Tonga made a positive start to the second half with a try from number eight Sione Vailanu a minute after the restart and the tries kept on coming thereafter, Semisi Mahe and captain Bill Fukofuka going over for the Islanders with prop Facundo Gattas and number eight Manuel Diana replying for Los Teritos.
Captain Facundo Klappenbach finished off a well-worked move in the 67th minute to finally put a bit of daylight between the teams. Oneone’s second try proved to be merely a consolation as the final whistle sounded straight after the successful conversion.
Tonga performed well, but ultimately were unable to capitalise at key moments. The team will no doubt take this as a learning opportunity and build toward future campaigns after a promising start.